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Perry (not) for President

By now you’re probably aware of the current Texas Monthly cover story, in which Paul Burka makes the case that Rick Perry is positioning himself for a run at the Presidency in 2012. I don’t care to get into a detailed analysis of this – I’ll leave most of the heavy lifting to Bob Moser – but there is one thing that needs to be in the discussion: The 2011 legislative session is going to be brutal, and if Rick Perry is Governor, it will exact a large toll on him, since as Texas’ longest-service executive, it’ll all be on him. Consider:

– Sales tax revenues continue to decline. We’ve collected a billion dollars less than we thought we’d collect. Oh, and the Rainy Day Fund is poorer than we projected, too. That’s a recipe for disaster right there.

– The choices that the Lege will face are:

  • Slash spending, which always sounds good to some people until they have to come up with specifics.
  • Dip into the Rainy Day Fund, whose balance Perry has bragged about. That not only takes a supermajority, which means convincing a bunch of Republicans to do it, but also leaves Perry open to charges of “deficit spending”, under the same logic that people have applied to Bill White and the use of the city of Houston’s reserve funds.
  • Roll back the unaffordable and unpaid-for property tax cuts of 2006. One presumes Perry would prefer to have an appendage or two chopped off to this.

None of these will look good for Perry on the campaign trail, especially when you consider that many of his top rivals – Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney, to name three – are not currently in office, so they themselves will not be in a similar position. Slashing spending may be the “right” answer for him politically, but that’s sure to leave some unhappy Republican legislators, whose priorities will have to take a hit for this to be meaningful, in its wake.

– And the backdrop for all this will be a stream of stories about how Texas only balanced its 2009 budget due to $15 billion of stimulus money, whose purpose Perry and use has been dishonest about.

Now, none of this is to say that Perry couldn’t take a shot at the GOP nomination for 2012. But however things look for him today, he can’t get there without going through 140 rough days next year, if he does manage to get re-elected. His prospects have to be evaluated in that context.

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  1. Linkmeister says:

    Missing negative, I think: None of these three: Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney are in office, contrary to what you write.

  2. Oops! Fixed now. Thanks for the catch!

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